Do you know how to light a fire? Build a den? Put up a tarp and a hammock? Create something beautiful from mud, sticks and leaves? We want our children to possess those skills and lots more, which is why we are very excited to be introducing Forest School to Brampton this academic year!
Forest School is a child-centred outdoor education approach which offers opportunities for holistic development (social, physical, intellectual, emotional, creative and spiritual) through play, exploration and supported risk taking.
More information about Forest School is available on the Forest School Association website:
According to Forest School Association, the six principles of Forest School are:
- Forest School is a long-term process of regular sessions, rather than one-off or infrequent visits; the cycle of planning, observation, adaptation and review links each session.
- Forest School takes place in a woodland or natural environment to support the development of a lifelong relationship between the learner and the natural world.
- Forest School uses a range of learner-centred processes to create a community for being, development and learning.
- Forest School aims to promote the holistic development of all involved, fostering resilient, confident, independent and creative learners.
- Forest School offers learners the opportunity to take supported risks appropriate to the environment and to themselves.
- Forest School is run by qualified Forest School practitioners, who continuously maintain and develop their professional practice.
Forest School began in Scandinavia and was adopted as an educational approach in the UK in around 1993. Until recently, the approach was relatively unheard of in state-funded schools, but the approach is becoming increasingly popular around the country and there is a growing body of research evidencing the benefits experienced by those who regularly engage in the Forest School. The approach is evolving as more and more practioners are trained and share best practice within the Forest School community. We are beginning our Forest School journey at a very exciting time!
Many nurseries and schools have adopted the approach as part of the school curriculum, usually for Reception children, or to offer as as an extra-curricular activity for pupils' personal development. At Brampton, we will be doing both! Once fully implemented, Forest School will be for all (not just Reception) and as an extra for those who want to engage further.
But we don't have a forest at Brampton? That's doesn't matter! It's a common misconception that Forest School must be delivered in a forest. Forest School is an approach, not a place, and can be adapted to facilities available. Brampton doesn't yet have a forest (it's going to take a few years for our newly-planted acorns to grow) but we are not short on outside space. In the Spring Term, we will be sectioning off the KS1 end of the field where our new outdoor classroom is situated, and this will be the area in which we'll facilitate Forest School. We also have some lovely woodland areas not too far from the school, so we can take our Forest School sessions off site too.
To deliver Forest School, lead practioners must hold a recognised Forest School qualification and be trained our Outdoor or Forest School First Aid and a Food Hygiene certificate if cooking. Other members of staff can support in the sessions, but they must have received sufficient training from the Forest School Leader to do so. Miss Wellington holds a Forest School First Aid certificate and Food Hygiene certificate and is due to submit her portfolio for the Forest School Leader course. As soon as she gets the green light, she'll start training the rest of the staff and we'll be good to go!